Is yeast extract (a taste enhancing additive) lurking in your 'natural' foods?

Monday, November 07, 2011 by: Selena Keegan
Tags: yeast extract, natural foods, health news

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(NaturalNews) "Natural", "organic" and "healthy" are marketing terms to many food manufacturers. Don't let these words, or advertising and package imagery fool you into filling your grocery cart without reading the labels. Even the snack food aisle at the grocery store is now filled with items promising less sodium, less fat, etc. You might want to take some time to investigate less sodium and less fat. NaturalNews has looked into some of the so-called healthier snack foods to provide you with real information.


The website for the SunChips line of multigrain snacks features clickable options at the top of the page to read about "Healthier You" and a "Healthier Planet." The snack foods corporate affiliation with Frito Lay, can be found at the bottom of the website. The ingredients listed in SunChips French Onion flavor are whole corn, sunflower oil, whole wheat, whole oat flour, rice flour, sugar, corn bran, whey protein concentrate, salt, buttermilk, whey, onion powder, sour cream (cream, nonfat milk, cultures), natural flavors, gum acacia, cultured whey, nonfat dry milk, mozzarella cheese (milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), yeast extract, spices (including parsley), and maltodextrin (made from corn).

Terra Chips

The Terra Chips website describes their products as "a sophisticated snacking experience" with "a chip that tastes as good as it looks and makes you feel good too." The News page of the website for their root vegetable chips includes links to articles in Prevention and Real Simple magazines recommending their chips. Terra Chips is a subsidiary of Hain Celestial Group which is owned by Heinz. The company's Thai Basil Curry Chips contain: a seasonal mix of root vegetables (taro, sweep potato, purple sweet potato, batata, kabocha), canola oil and/or safflower oil and/or sunflower oil, curry seasoning (evaporated cane juice, dextrose, salt, spices including basil, dehydrated garlic, natural flavors, turmeric [including extract of turmeric], dehydrated onion, yeast extract, oil extractives of paprika, includes coconut), beet juice concentrate (for color).


Annie's Homegrown is an independently owned company which has produced natural foods for more than two decades. The company's website emphasizes their commitment to avoiding GMO's. The label for Annie's Cheddar Bunnies lists these ingredients: organic wheat flour, expeller pressed vegetable oil (safflower and/or sunflower), salt, cheddar cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), yeast extract, yeast, paprika, annatto extract for color, ground celery seed, onion powder.

Yeast Extract

One ingredient common to all three snack foods listed above is yeast extract, one of those substances listed in many commercially produced foods that is rarely found in home kitchens. On their FAQ web page, Annie's Homegrown offers this definition: "Yeast extract is a savory flavoring agent naturally produced by growing, harvesting, and concentrating yeast cells. The yeast self-digests (autolyzes), breaking down the cell walls, and creates a savory base used to formulate a multitude of different flavors."

This is accurate to a point. Yeast extract, also listed on some food packages as autolyzed yeast, is similar to MSG in that it contains free glutamate. Using ingredients like MSG and yeast extract or autolyzed yeast allows manufacturers to list a lower sodium content on their foods while still offering a similar taste to foods which contain more salt. However, this substitution comes at a price to consumer health.

MSG and other substances containing free glutamate, such as yeast extract, interfere with the endocrine system, disrupting the body's ability to monitor appetite. Dr. Russell Blaylock refers to these substances as "excitotoxins" because they over-excite appetite, resulting in people eating past the point of reaching physical fullness. Substances such as MSG have been linked not only to obesity but also to migraines, seizures and other nervous system disorders.

Because of the dangers of innocuous-sounding substances like yeast extract, NaturalNews cautions readers to examine labels carefully when purchasing any commercially prepared foods and to educate themselves about the many names under which MSG can hide (you can find a list here:

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